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Backlog Addendum | Kingdom of Neandria I-II

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Near the beginning of the year (2022), we dove into the first chapter of Kingdom of Neandria, an ambitious endeavor from Nestor of Neandria, who set out to prove that with enough time and an overabundance of gusto you can create a compelling and full featured RPG using the default assets and tools given to you in the Switch version of RPG Maker MV. 

Our experience with chapter one was mixed in that although Kingdom of Neandria had an impressive feature set considering where and how it was made, it did suffer from balancing issues when it came to its gameplay. Because of this, it made getting through the game a bit of a struggle despite wanting to see the narrative through to its end.

Now with chapter two available it’s time to dive back into the world of Neandria and continue Philo’s quest to rescue his daughter! It’ll be exciting to see what improvements from the original have been made, and if some of the wrinkles we ran into in the first half of the adventure have been ironed out. Here’s how it went:

Like its original release, the second chapter of Kingdom of Neandria features everything that a classic JRPG fan would come to expect. Which includes turn based battles, side quests, rich dialogue, and a variety of interesting characters! That said, what has always set Kingdom of Neandria apart was its impressive use of the tools within RPG Maker MV (on the Switch), to create simple yet fun mini-games to break up the standard “point A to point B” progression found in your typical RPG. And I’m happy to report that this all remains true in the second iteration of the game as well.

What makes chapter 2 different is that it continues where the first half left off and expands upon the original, two-fold! Both in scope and in length. Aside from the obvious addition of more dialogue, story, characters, items, and equipment there’s also a few noticeable enhancements to the gameplay portions. Things like a “mining” mini-game where you’ll collect materials to craft weapons and armor, a great alternative to just buying new equipment, as well as the inclusion of a new battle event that will reward you with more experience and items but will also make the enemies more challenging.

Unfortunately, despite all of these great features Kingdom of Neandria still suffers from one of its biggest drawbacks – its imbalance. Which is frustrating because I can recognize how much potential it has, how clever it is, and how much hard work was put into it. But so much of it was overshadowed by how every single step of the way felt like an uphill battle. By that I mean enemies and bosses are put on a difficulty curve that climbs too quickly, and even after buying the most powerful equipment and occasionally grinding, it never felt like I could get a leg up. On top of that, the fact that your party can be easily wiped out by just standard field enemies either due to their tendency to overwhelm you with their number of attacks (up to 3 times each), their ability to counter any action (magic attacks, standard attacks, and special abilities), or their love affair with status effects, it just becomes discouraging. It’s truly too bad, because such a seemingly simple flaw puts such a damper on what would otherwise be a great game. 

With all of that in mind, I’m having a hard time figuring out how I feel about the Kingdom of Neandria. Which in turn makes it a tough game to recommend. That being said if you enjoyed the first half, the follow up is a solid continuation that delivers everything you experienced there and more. Though I would keep in mind that if you played the original, you will have to replay the first chapter to get to the new content. Also, I can’t discount Nestor’s ability to create believable worlds with compelling characters and fun dialogue either, but ultimately the game as a whole just wasn’t for me. Nonetheless, since you can download it for free that’s more than enough reason to at least give it a try for yourself.

If you’re interested in checking out Kingdom of Neandria for yourself you can find it right now on the free RPG Maker MV player app on the Nintendo Switch.